It appears there could be a good number of Cincinnati Bengals fans at Sunday’s Indianapolis Colts playoff game at Lucas Oil Stadium.
About 7,000 tickets remained at the box office as of early Tuesday morning. Colts Chief Operating Officer Pete Ward admitted late Monday there was concern a large number of Bengals fans would scoop them up and make the two-hour drive up Interstate 74 for the game.
Ward was confident the 63,000-seat stadium would sell out.
“Last year at this time, we had 15,000 tickets available,” Ward said of the Colts' first-round playoff game last season against the Kansas City Chiefs. “So we’re ahead of last year, and we don’t have any concerns we’re not going to sell out. With Cincinnati so close and with tickets still available, the only concern we have is that a number of opposing fans could come to the game.”
Renny Harrison, owner of Carmel-based Fanfare Tickets, has seen at least as much interest in the Colts-Bengals playoff game from the Cincinnati market as the Indianapolis market.
“We talked to the three biggest ticket brokerages in Cincinnati on Monday, and we sold tickets to all three of them,” Harrison said. “The demand I’ve seen from this market [Indianapolis] is a little less than I expected. You usually see a ramp-up in activity the first day you know who your playoff opponent is going to be, and we didn’t really see that big surge in activity here.”
The Colts secured a playoff spot several weeks ago, but it wasn’t until the Pittsburgh Steelers defeated Cincinnati late Sunday night that the team knew its first-round opponent.
Colts playoff tickets went on sale to season-ticket holders in early December and to the general public right before Christmas.
There was a surge, Ward said, with about 3,000 tickets for the playoff game selling late Sunday and early Monday.
“We definitely feel a buzz of excitement,” Ward said.
But the demand from Colts fans overall is lagging last year’s first-round playoff game against the Chiefs, Harrison said.
“I think last year late in the season, the Colts were a little more intriguing and fans were a little more optimistic,” Harrison said. “This year, Colts fans appear to be a little more hesitant. But it’s still early in the week, and things could definitely pick up.”
Tickets on the secondary market are likely to get a boost when tickets at the box office sell out, which is expected to happen by Thursday or Friday. Ward said the team still had tickets in most areas of the stadium.
“We have a good variety of tickets available, including club seats,” Ward said.
Club seats are among the best—and most expensive—seats in Lucas Oil Stadium, located near the center of the field and offering fans a bigger, cushier seat.
Secondary ticket brokers also report having a variety of tickets available, with tickets selling for $8 to $20 over face value.
“Right now, the biggest demand we’re seeing are tickets in the $75 to $100 range,” Harrison said. “It’s a great opportunity for fans from both teams to see an important game at a reasonable price. For that reason, I do expect demand to pick up.”
According to New York-based TiqIQ, a leading source of data for the event ticket market, the current average price for tickets on the secondary market for the Bengals-Colts game is $172.92. The highest-priced ticket is more than $1,100.
This year’s average is below the $197.29 average of last year’s first-round home playoff game against Kansas City, according to TiqIQ, and it’s well below the average price of tickets on the secondary market for a first-round home playoff game during the Peyton Manning era.
In 2011, the average price for tickets on the secondary market for the Colts-New York Jets home playoff game was $212.76, according to TiqIQ. That price was likely driven up—at least in part—by rabid and playoff-starved Jets fans who made the trip to Indianapolis for the game.
This year’s Colts playoff game also is below the averages of the other three NFL playoff contests this weekend.
The average for tickets on the secondary market for the other AFC game, Baltimore at Pittsburgh, is $252.01, according to TiqIQ.
The average ticket price on the secondary market for the NFC matchup featuring the Arizona Cardinals at Carolina Panthers, the only team in this playoff with a losing record, is $244.53, according to TiqIQ.
The other NFC game, Detroit Lions at Dallas Cowboys, wins the prize for having the highest-priced tickets on the secondary market for the first round of the playoffs: $300.22.
To some degree, the Colts could be a victim of their own success, said Chris Mactovich, TiqIQ director of data.
“With the continued success Indy has had over the past 15 years with Peyton and Andrew Luck at [quarterback],” Mactovich said, “sometimes when there is that much success fans are geared to wait to buy tickets for later rounds.”